About 100 people gathered at Western Prong Baptist Church for the 2023 Donors and Scholars Luncheon on Oct. 5 to celebrate all scholarship recipients and their donors. More than $290,000 in scholarships were awarded for the 2023-2024 school year. 

“It’s always a great time because the donors love seeing the students and hearing from the students,” said Terrie Priest, executive director of the SCC Foundation. “They love finding out how that scholarship or support has helped them.” 

2020 nursing graduate and Success Scholar Savannah Seay was the student speaker for the event. She works as a newborn nursery nurse at McLeod Loris Hospital, and she received her BSN from Clemson University. Seay is now working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice-FNP degree at Baylor University. When she was 17 years old, she felt the financial burden of college after realizing that it would cost $200,000 to get to where she is today.  

Seay explained that SCC was not her first choice for college, and she said that closing the door on SCC meant closing the door on endless opportunity. With the Success Scholarship, Seay knew that her first two years of college were covered.  

“That’s when it all really, truly started coming together,” Seay said. “I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I enrolled at Southeastern. I became a student ambassador and worked to promote the college.” 

The following year, Seay was accepted into the nursing program, and she started “two of the most excruciating years of my life.” 

“There is no hard like Southeastern nursing hard,” Seay said. “I can guarantee you that. I successfully completed the hardest nursing program that I think you can ever attend.” 

Seay explained that by attending SCC first, she earned her bachelor’s degree at one-fourth of the cost of attending Clemson University for four years. She expressed gratitude to SCC for granting the financial ability to “go out after my dreams.” 

SCC Executive Vice President Dr. Sylvia Cox said she has a dream job because of the generous donors who provide financial support to students in allowing them to attend SCC.  

“I am so proud of SCC Foundation,” Cox said. “We come from a community that doesn’t have as much as others, but we give and give and give. When you give, it goes so far. The thing and thought that stands between a person and their goals and their dreams is the question that daunts many tables. How are we going to pay for this?” 

Cox explained that many potential students shut down any thoughts of college because they don’t know how to pay for it. She said the U.S. student loan debt, as of August, is $1.66 trillion. With the help of scholarship donors, Cox said that the financial burden is lifted.  

“When they leave us, we hope that most of all, we’ve given them all the tools to be successful in their next journey whether it’s at work or whether it’s going to university,” Cox said. “We want them to know that we deeply believe in them.” 

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